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Prudent Use Case Study - Poultry

Antibiotics were being used in a poultry farm to maintain the health and growth of birds mainly affected by digestive problems with enteritis and wet litters often resulting in leg damage. An integrated approach to improve management of the birds has led to a 70% reduction in antibiotic use on the farm over the past two years.

Management practices were reviewed with a biosecurity risk analysis questionnaire regularly used by the veterinarian in other farms integrated in the same company. Risk areas were detected and management and hygiene practices were reviewed accordingly.

A discussion was established with the hatchery supplying the 1-day old chicks to review hygiene protocols and vaccination. New-born chicks were treated with probiotics to encourage healthy gut development. Water was analysed and acidifiers were included to improve its quality by reducing bacterial load. A yeast extract with prebiotic effects was added to the birds feed to reduce the risk of dysbiosis. This approach minimizes the proliferation of bacterial populations related to digestive problems and promotes the development of a healthier gut micro-biota that we provide to the animal. Having a more adequate micro-biota present in the gut means there is more competition against “bad” infection causing bacteria. This phenomenon is known as competitive exclusion.

The farmer and the staff members also joined a monthly discussion group on poultry management and reduction of antibiotics. This was organized by the local advisory services where other farmers share their experiences and learn from each other.

Antibiotic use on the farm is low and antibiotics are only used after proper diagnostics are carried out including antibiogram to confirm the adequacy of the treatment. Regular analyses are also performed to monitor the composition of basal micro-biota in the litter and after cleaning and disinfection of the buildings.